High growth potential. Prior to the global economic crisis, Serbian economic growth was averaging 6 per cent per annum. Output grew around 60% in real terms between 2000 and 2011.
Trade is growing. UK exports to Serbia grew 5 per cent y/y in 2011, to over £100m, and further 11 per cent y/y in 2012. This was despite major Serbian dinar depreciation against sterling, and a difficult year for Serbia’s economy.
The UK is welcome. But UK firms are under-represented – our trade and investment relationship is dwarfed by Germany, Italy, Austria and others. English is Serbia’s first foreign language; British arts, culture and sports are predominant; British education is preferred. Diplomatic relations go back 176 years. But UK business is missing the opportunity to capitalise on these valuable reputational assets.
Low-hanging fruit. Due to the conflicts, sanctions and hyperinflation of the nineties, there still remains a great deal ofinvestment, renovation, and modernisation to be done across all industrial sectors.
A range of opportunities. Key opportunity sectors are agri-industry; energy (including renewables); infrastructure; ICT; education; and security – but UK firms are succeeding in many other sectors, too. Services represent nearly two-thirds of the economy.
Aid-funded business. Serbia receives around €200 million in aid every year from the EU for international tenders, consultancy and other service and supply contracts, for economic and administrative development. Many other international financial institutions and donors operate in Serbia.
An EU future. Serbia attained Candidacy formembership of the European Union in March 2012, and is expected to open accession negotiations soon.
Virgin territory. New laws passed in 2011 on the energy market, and on public-private partnerships and concessions, open up a huge range of business opportunities.
Demand for goods the UK can provide. Serbia’smain imports from the EU in 2011 were Machinery and Transport Equipment (€2.7bn); Manufactured Goods (€1.7bn); and Chemicals (€1.5bn).
Strategic location. Serbianeighbours eight countries, three of which speak the same language. Three are EU Member States, with Croatia to join soon. It has a trade agreement with the EU and Free Trade Agreements with the Central European Free Trade Area (31m consumers); Russia (142m consumers); and Turkey (78m consumers) among others. Two major pan-European road, rail and river transport routes intersect in Serbia.
UK Trade and Investment can tell you more, and help you begin exporting or delivering services in Serbia.